Old Grandpappy Frostheim used to have a saying: "There's nothing so ugly as a face that's been smashed in by the nerf bat. Not even an elf. Well, maybe a space goat, and certainly them Hordies -- but you know, nothing natural is that ugly."
The latest Cataclysm beta build has brought a handful of changes to the hunter class, including a Kill Command nerf that makes Kill Command worse than Arcane Shot, even for BM, and Camouflage got nerfed so hard the cool leaked right out and gnomish repair crews just barely kept all the cool from leaving entirely. It isn't all bad news, however; we got some minor buffs to a handful of abilities and some cost reductions, including the removal of a focus cost from the BM bonus ability Intimidation, a new raid buff and an adorable new pet animation.
Join me after the cut for the changes in the latest build and some of the ramifications on the current state of the Cataclysm beta hunter.
Patch 4.0.1 is now on the PTR. This means that everyone can charge to the PTR and try the new hunter changes. You won't be able to level or see the changed Azeroth or new content, but you can try out focus, the new talent trees, pet abilities and our stat changes. I thought this would be an excellent time to recap some hunter Cataclysm info and talk a bit about what you should and should not be worrying about in the beta.
In all honesty, this is somewhat a matter of pre-emptive self-defense. Through long experience and the ancient yet time-honored art of beer foam reading, I know -- know, deep in that instinctive part of my brain that is designed to save me from fire and bears -- that I'm about to be flooded with emails about how this spec is doing more damage than that spec and "OMG X spec is OP WTF!?"
So join me after the cut for a recap of some key hunter concepts in Cataclysm, as well as a rundown of what you should not be paying any attention to at this stage of the PTR.
After endless waiting and so much patience it tried even the saintlike souls of us hunters, the pet design pass has finally come to pass. Probably the most important change was Blizzard's finally giving in to hunter demand and creating a dance ability for our fox pet, but there were several other lesser changes that are probably worth noting as well.
Specifically, our pets are now providing a variety of raid buffs, as promised. But instead of giving minor versions of the raid buffs like we thought, our pets are actually providing the full raid buff: armor debuff, 5 percent crit buff, physical damage debuff, and even Heroism/Bloodlust.
Join me after the cut for the full list of new pet special abilities.
I'm getting an increasing number of requests to know what kind of gear we should be hoarding for leveling up to 85 in Cataclysm. A lot of hunters are still grinding through ICC and want to know if they should bother with four-piece tier 10, or if making that final push to armor penetration gemming is going to be worthwhile since those ArP gems will change to something else. And what will those gems change to, anyway? What stat are we going to want to stack in Cataclysm?
Well first of all, let me say this: We don't even have a release date for Cataclysm yet. We don't know when it's coming out, but we do know it's not going to be any time real soon. I had originally planned on waiting until Cataclysm was a bit closer before hitting this, but if the amount of emails I'm getting is any indication, people want to know now.
So join me after the cut to learn what you should be paying attention to now and how best to plan for your Cataclysm hunter leveling experience.
The level cap in the Cataclysm beta has been raised up to level 85, which means that we finally get to have a look at our badass level 85 ability: Camouflage. While it's true that this is primarily a PvP ability, it does not in any way disappoint. It looks amazing. It works even more amazingly, granting us more than we had ever imagined based only on the description.
You can only enter Camouflage while out of combat. It lasts a minute and has a 1-minute cooldown. When you're standing still, it is stealth. When you're moving, it's sweet-looking awesomeness. You can target someone moving in Camouflage, but you cannot cast any spell at him. Camouflage makes you immune to ... just about everything. You can't be tracked, your nameplate doesn't show up, you aren't affected by AoE, fears, mass dispels. If you attack, you leave Camouflage. If you take damage -- say, from a DoT ticking -- you leave Camouflage. Everything else you're are safe from, as long as you aren't fighting.
The video gives a pretty good preview both of how Camouflage looks, and how the mechanics of it work. Enjoy!
[Update: Question: would a rogue be willing to give up Stealth -- and all its associated combos and benefits -- for Camouflage? If they answer is yes, then I'll agree that this is OP, otherwise nerf the rogue first.]
[2nd Update: Please keep personal attacks out of the comments! You can disagree with someone's point without insulting the person. Instead, stick to the point.]
I have a suspicion that Wrath will go down in the history books as the golden age of pet tanking and extreme soloing. I think that Wrath hit the precise perfect balance for extreme pet antics, whether by design or by accident. We have solo'd from Molten Core to Violet Hold and everything in between (and more). We have used our pet to tank for our raids, from Naxx to Ulduar to TotC, all the way to ICC. Our pets have tanked Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Gunship and Blood Princes, and our pets have even solo-tanked Sindragosa. We can pet tank Rotface while we kite the slimes.
The beauty and balance of the Wrath pet tanking, however, is that we're generally only able to do it after we're a tier or two of gear beyond the content (or with the ICC raid buff). This way, we aren't taking tank spots away from actual tank classes -- something that would get our pet tanking nerfed in a heartbeat. But these are still impressive feats, challenging feats -- and they are big fun.
While it's too early to say how pet tanking will work out in Cataclysm -- the pet design pass has not yet been done -- I keep getting emails about it, and we have seen enough to do some speculation. Join me after the cut for a look at what made pet tanking work so well in Wrath and what we know about it so far in Cataclysm.
The hunter class received handful of tweaks in last night's Cataclysm beta build 12803, but by far the most significant among them is the removal of the minimum range (sometimes referred to as the dead zone) for hunter special shots. However Ghostcrawler, lead systems designer, was quick to jump into a thread to point out that it was only a bug.
Ghostcralwer - Lead Systems Designer
We did not remove the minimum range of hunter shots intentionally. If it's happening, it's a bug.
It's as if a million voices all cried out in joy and then were extinguished. Read on after the cut for a full list of the hunter changes in the latest build. As if life were worth living while Blizzard toys with our hearts this way.
While BM has come a long way in the beta, it still has not-yet-implemented talents and not-yet-functional talents. But the main problem with BM is that the pet design pass hasn't been done yet. BM relies on its pets far more than any other spec, and until we know how the pet design will play out, we are left with big questions in our rotation.
Join me after the cut as we take a look at exactly where BM is right now, why our pets are more important than ever, why big red pet is better than ever, and why we can't say for certain just what the final BM rotation will look like.
Last week, we covered what the new PvE rotation is looking like for MM hunters in Cataclysm, and today we're going to move along to the SV PvE rotation. Currently in Wrath, the MM rotation is more fixed and requires some careful forethought and planning. In Cataclysm, it is more so. In Wrath, the SV rotation is more reactionary, and in Cataclysm, it is that and more so.
Despite the frantic gyrations from being focus-starved to actually having too much focus, the SV rotation is probably the least-changed hunter spec rotation in Cataclysm. We use Cobra Shot instead of Steady Shot, we don't have to worry about reapplying Serpent Sting and instead we get to actually use Arcane Shot from time to time. Join me after the cut and we'll take a look.
As the Cataclysm beta continues, the different hunter specs are finally beginning to settle into place. There are still a lot of bugs, a lot of things not working or working oddly, and some talents that clearly need tweaking -- and of course, focus regen is being tuned weekly at this point -- but the overall PvE feel of each spec is becoming increasingly solid.
Today we're going to start by looking at the MM spec in Cataclysm, which seems to be the most polished spec at the moment. We are not forgetting SV or BM, which we'll hit up next week (though BM, as the most changed spec, is also the least finished, with big stuff not working right now). Join me after the cut for rotations, key abilities, how those talents really work and to bask in the awesomeness of the Cataclysm hunter.
We got a new Cataclysm beta build filled with delightful hunter treats, and that was promptly followed up with some blue posts with more good hunter news. From the hunter point of view, this beta build seemed mostly aimed at refining focus and focus regen -- basically getting our focus into a better spot. For the first time in beta we are able anticipate hunter movement DPS being back to a good place. I shall manfully refrain from saying I told you so to everyone who cried that the world was ending. Our ability to shoot on the move was too drastically low, and Blizzard recognized and is fixing it.
In practice, I should note, most of these new changes are bugged. The result is we can't actually do a lot of testing on what the new rotations feel like in the beta, but I'm certainly very positive on how they'll work out. Heck, MM and SV rotations already had a similar instant to steady ratio as they do on live. With these changes, we'll be using a lot more instants (BM is still bugged and can't be tested well).
Join me after the cut for the list of all important hunter changes in the latest Cataclysm beta build, our blue post on raid buffs, and the latest measure of our new base focus regen rate!
Today, rather than telling you all about what's happening for hunters in the Cataclysm beta, I'm going to show you. This video goes through a handful of the hunter changes, including the tracking update, new pet skins, the new stable master and the improved pet stay command.
Before anyone asks, the beta currently has a level cap of level 83 and Camouflage cannot be learned until level 85. It's still very early in the beta, and we have a way to wait before we can see how that one works out.
As promised, Blizzard has completed a massive overhaul of the talent system in the Cataclysm beta. It's a change of biblical proportions: only 31 points to the bottom of the trees, no more Mortal Shots, no more Hawk Eye, Explosive Shot for free at level 10, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria!
A lot of what we're seeing right now looks a little bit crude. We have vastly different numbers of talents in different trees as well as some truly odd choices of what talents remain and which ones were removed. Suffice it to say (as we always say), this is just the beta; this is a first implementation of the new talent system, and expect many changes moving forward.
Join me after the cut for a complete look at what the talent system overhaul is currently doing for hunters in the beta.
On Thursday we talked about some of the biggest hunter news in the Cataclysm beta, from Aspect of the Fox to the new Chimer/ Widow Venom combo. But of course that was only the tip of the of the deadly hunter iceberg. Today we're going to focus on the news about our better halves, our lifelong companions and platonic life partners: our pets.
It would be inappropriate of us to claim the title of most-changed class in Cataclysm without some major changes to our pets, and that's just what we're getting. Some of this was expected from blue posts in the months after our class preview, some of it was promised to us years ago, and some of it is entirely unexpected and wonderful.
Across the board, however, I think you'll agree that it's good news for our pets in Cataclysm. Join me after the cut to learn all about it. Since no discussion of pets is complete without the true pet hunter, BM, we'll be taking a look at the BM talent changes and how they interact with the pet changes to make Cataclysm the most exciting time to be a BM hunter in the history of WoW.
Okay, take a deep breath. The NDA has been lifted and we're about to take a look at what's been going on with the hunter class behind closed doors. Those of us who have been desperately keeping our mouths shut until we were vibrating with the secret knowledge we possess can finally climb to the rooftops and start shouting about the awesomeness contained within.
Because those hunter class previews we had earlier in the year? That was nothing. Nothing I tell you compared to the sweet, sweet huntery goodness lurking behind the closed beta doors.
Join me after the cut as we begin to scrape the surface of some of the awesomesauce hidden in the Cataclysm beta. I think you'll join me in agreeing that it's been worth the wait. Hold tight to your seat, folks; this is a killer ride.